Welcome to Megan and the Student Equality Network with their new Student Curator Project on Intersectionality!

For those of you who don’t know what this project is all about – as Student Curator’s, Megan, Luana, Deni and the Student Equality Network will be exploring the Library collections and highlighting materials they find that represent and celebrate the themes within Intersectionality. In representing the student voice, they will not only be helping us to develop and diversify our collections by suggesting new titles, but will also ensure our collection continues to expand and be relevant to all students. Do follow us on social media @surreylib – we’ll be using the hashtags #SurreyLibCurator and #StudentCurator to promote the project .

Hello Surrey Students! My name is Megan, and I am the Vice President Voice of the Students’ Union. I am working in partnership with students in the Student Equality Network, formerly known as the Liberation Network, for this Student Curator Project all about the topic of Intersectionality. Intersectionality is so important in recognising that we can’t just put people into boxes and categories when we think about equality, because each person has their own unique backgrounds, perspectives and groups of intertwined characteristics that impact how they experience society, and the discrimination or privilege they may face.

This level of understanding of equality is necessary for University. With over 16,000 students and over 2,500 staff at Surrey, understanding intersectionality helps us create more inclusive communities because we learn from each other’s perspectives, and avoid making assumptions on people’s experience of discrimination by focusing solely on one social characteristic. Feeling you belong at University is key, as there is a proven link between a strong social and academic engagement and feeling a sense of belonging, but also it is a basic human need for all of us to feel we belong!

We all had varying experiences during 2020 and 2021, where whatever we were doing, whether that was School, University and most workplaces, these were put on hold for the meantime and most of us were stuck in the same four walls day to day. Luana, one of volunteers who is currently on placement for English Literature with Creative Writing, joined the University during the height of the pandemic, and said that arriving late due to being an international student and having to stay away from University campus for months after going home for Christmas made her start at University rather complicated, but through flatmates, course mates and getting involved massively with University life in all areas, she found her sense of belonging at Surrey. Unfortunately, not all students were as fortunate to find that belonging through the two years of University where the pandemic impacted, and loneliness was found to be strongly felt by nearly a quarter of University students in the UK in 2021 compared to 5% in 2020, with trans and disabled students feeling the most affected (found in a study by HEPI). This is just one example of the same situation, us all being made to isolate for months, that led to completely different experiences due to who we are, our personal circumstances, and all our combined characteristics.

By reading and engaging with materials on Intersectionality through this project, I am hoping that students throughout the University can start to educate themselves about different perspectives so we can educate ourselves better on how people face discrimination differently to someone else, even if they are perceived to be in the same social category, and this will help us come together as a more inclusive and aware community.

The materials chosen in this collection have been selected by students who each have a passion for equality, diversity, and inclusion, and have used their own unique perspectives when selecting their choices. If this interests you, and you have any suggestions for this collection, please reach out to me at ussu.vpvoice@surrey.ac.uk as there are always opportunities to expand this collection and play a role in making the University more of inclusive place. Joining the Student Equality Network is also a way of taking an active role in EDI, and this can be done via Surrey Volunteering.

I hope you enjoy the collection!